Meet the Director
For nearly two decades, Executive Director Julie Rothenfluh has supported Naperville Public Library. She started working at Nichols Library in 1991 – before Naper Boulevard Library was even added. As the library grew into three buildings, Rothenfluh grew right along with it. Now, as executive director, she is the driving force of Naperville Public Library.
Rothenfluh answered some questions to highlight her personal and career accomplishments.
When did you start working at the library?
I started working for Naperville Public Library in September 1991 as the assistant department head for Children's Services at Nichols Library (there was only Nichols Library when I was hired). I worked there for about one and a half years, left to move to Wisconsin, and returned in 1997, as the assistant department head for Children's Services at Nichols – again! (by that time Naper Boulevard Library had been added.)
What have been the most exciting accomplishments you have seen since working as executive director?
The Idea Lab is high on the list – it's a tremendous resource for our community, and it came together through great teamwork. Same for NaperLaunch, which we're still working on! The restructuring of circulation and shelving functions was also a lot of work by a lot of people that has really made us more efficient. Just being able to lead this great organization and this tremendous staff is very exciting to me!
How does the community play an important part in the success of the library?
A library is all about its community! When I worked in LA County in California, I worked in a community that was focused on meeting basic survival needs, and many people didn't really see what a library had to offer them. Naperville is blessed with an amazing community that values and uses all three of our facilities. We are here to serve our community, and our community is not shy about letting us know how we can improve and the types of services they are looking for. The feedback from the community and the use by the community are what keep us going.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In the spring and summer, I like to garden, and every summer I take a "sister vacation" with my sisters in Door County, Wis. Sometimes we take a winter "sister vacation" to Arizona. Of course I enjoy reading and I confess that I'm something of a couch potato – I love to watch TV!
What are some of your favorite books?
I'm a big Stephen King fan; I have most of his books. I also enjoy Zane Grey and Georgette Heyer. Two of my favorite books are "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay and "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. I particularly enjoy teen literature, and one of my favorite genres is dystopian fiction. I also love children's literature, and two of my favorites are "Lizard Music" by Daniel Pinkwater and "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick.
If you could choose a main character from a novel you most relate to, who would it be?
That's a really hard question! While I love good characters, I don't know that I usually consider how I relate to them. But one from my childhood sticks out – "Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol Ryrie Brink. It's about an 11-year-old girl from a big family growing up in frontier Wisconsin. I don't know if it's because she also came from a large family, but she always seemed to have such exciting adventures; she seemed like someone I'd like to be or like to be friends with!
What's your background?
I'm from Sturgeon Bay, Wis. and from a family of nine kids (six girls, three boys), most of whom are readers. My family owned a bakery. My dad worked two full-time jobs and read seven books a week. Every Saturday when we were little, my mother (who was also a big reader) would make him take us to the library to get us out of the house so she could clean!! I got my Master in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where I also got my undergraduate degree). My first library job was the head of Children's Services in Superior, Wis. After about two years, I moved to California to live with one of my sisters. I eventually worked in LA County, Kern County and Fresno County library systems, all in Children's Services. I also spent some time working for Southland Corporation (then, the parent company of 7-Eleven), including working the midnight shift in a 7-Eleven (that was an adventure)! That is where I met my husband. Our daughter was born in Fresno, Calif. We also have a son, who was born in Green Bay, Wisc.
Why did you want to work at Naperville Public Library?
My husband and I were relocating to the Midwest from California (with our daughter) and had friends in the area who sent us a Chicago Tribune ad for the job at Nichols. It was a very happy, lucky coincidence!